By Ana Aragón
Radiant bride and groom, flowers and music, tear-stained mothers’ cheeks, gloating groomsmen. While the Happily Every After (HEA) in a romance story doesn’t necessary require a wedding, I personally love a good, prim and proper, Regency wedding after a three-hundred-fifty page romp through Hyde Park and the parlors and ballrooms of the ton.
But for a real-life wedding, you can’t beat a feisty New Mexican wedding à la Fools Rush In.
This past weekend, I attended a cousin’s church wedding in Albuquerque, one of two life events certain to bring even the most reclusive family member out of hiding (the other being a funeral.) The bride and groom were dressed in white, their dozen or so bridesmaids in various shades of green. Handsome groomsmen and ushers wore black tuxedos with massive belt buckles instead of cummerbunds, and black cowboy hats at their sides.
The church was bulging at the seams as family and friends from Georgia to California and Colorado to México filled the pews. The service and music were in Spanish, Mariachi music filling the cavernous sanctuary. I enjoyed being immersed in the lyrical sounds and musical notes of my native language. It’s amazing how easy it was for my brain synapses to reconnect so that Spanish nouns preceded their adjectives and verbs perfectly conjugated as I spoke with aunts, uncles and cousins.
But I digress.
Following the wedding and on the way to the reception and dance at the VFW Post 99 (the venue of choice for family celebrations) my mother and I laughingly recalled various weddings, including our own. Trust me, there isn’t space enough to do adequate justice to the weddings in my family!
My wedding was a small, intimate affair, at a non-demoninational church (to offend both families equally) with 250 friends and family in attendance and a no-liquor reception at the church (if you don’t count Uncle Tony’s impromptu bar in the trunk of his car.) My husband had attended several family weddings by this time and insisted on a liquor-free reception, as he wasn’t too fond of the game they typically played after the men were inebriated called, “Pick on the Biggest Gringo.”
But the opportunity to attend their first non-Roman Catholic wedding ever brought out all of my immediate, and not so immediate, family. My aunts couldn’t fathom a plain cake and punch reception, so they catered their wedding special of green chile enchiladas, carne adovada, posole, beans, rice, homemade tortillas…oh, and sliced ham and rolls and a green salad for the groom’s family.
Thankfully, the requisite fight in the parking lot between a couple of young, macho cousins filled with liquor, chests puffed in indignation over some small slight, probably having to do with someone’s sister, never occurred.
Even so, I doubt my husband’s family ever recovered. And the prediction it wouldn't last six months? Not even close.
My mother and father, on the other hand, were married at my mother’s home church in Mountainair, New Mexico at the end of World War II, thiry years before my own. My mother’s younger sister, Presy, and her husband, my Uncle Tony, had preceded them to the altar two years prior, and were their attendants. My father and Uncle Tony were rakehells of the first order, and after a quick reception they drove to Albuquerque to present the newlyweds to the extended family. The men enjoyed a beer (or two) and a shot (or two) of hard liquor at each stop in celebration of the momentous event.
My father and uncle enjoyed themselves so much, in fact, that they missed the appointment with the wedding photographer. Alas, no professional photos exist of that memorable day, but my mother insists it was probably for the best, since the groom and best man were well into their cups by late afternoon.
But the lack of professional photographs was only a speed bump to the real disappointment of the day. My father and uncle, in their haste to purchase enough celebratory brew for the next day, a Sunday, neglected to save cash enough to pay for the newlywed’s hotel room. My father showed off his Friday paycheck, uncashed, but the hotel clerk would not be budged.
There was no room at the inn.
Aunt Presy consoled my mother in the back seat of the car, and they headed to their small apartment. Uncle Tony, ever magnanimous, offered to build them a comfy pallet on the living room floor. (You didn’t think he’d offer his bed, did you?)
So that was the inauspicious beginning to a marriage that, as of May 29, 2009, spanned sixty-two years, and produced five children, fifteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Which only goes to prove that a lifetime of marriage and happiness, an HEA, doesn’t necessarily have to start with a picture-perfect wedding!
The photograph above, starting at the left, is my mother, my father, and Aunt Presy at the reception Saturday evening. Uncle Tony, unfortunately, passed away this past year and missed his only grandson's wedding.
I'm sure he enjoyed it from his front row seat in heaven.
Please share your family wedding faux pas. We all have our Fools Rush In stories, and I'd love to hear yours!